Fangirling Chinese Novels

One Life, One Incarnation: Beautiful Bones (一生一世美人骨) — Chapter 2.1



Shi Yi learns something about Zhousheng Chen. It looks like she really may have no chance with him in this life.

Chapter 2.1 – This Life’s Previous Incarnation (1)

“Would you like to go?” Zhousheng Chen seemed to feel that this was somewhat inappropriate, and he consulted her opinion.

“No worries. It just so happens that I haven’t eaten yet.” Shi Yi did not mind. “But I do have a request. May I take a look around your laboratory first? It was so hard to get through all those layers of security, so it would be such a pity if I didn’t at least have a look.”

He Shan had actually only intended on trying his luck and had not thought that they would actually agree to his suggestion, so he straightaway volunteered himself to show her around the laboratory. Zhousheng Chen, though, pulled out a stack of papers that required his signature, saying he needed to finish off the rest of his work and that he would give them ten minutes to walk around.

She could sense his deliberate brush-off. Following He Shan out of his office, she listened to him enthusiastically describe the various laboratories they passed, only smiling politely in response and speaking very few words. She was very afraid that taking the initiative to ask to come here had caused him to feel like she was being rude.

Never before had she acted so impulsively and willfully before.

And now, this one-off time caused her to feel distressed and anxious. In the end, she could only remember the laboratory’s name: Laboratory of Electrical Insulation and Thermal Aging. At least that could be considered as having gained an understanding of his work.

“Here, we have the nation’s only large-scale thermal aging equipment capable of carrying out high voltage, up to a maximum of 60 kV, and high temperature, up to a maximum of 200oC, experiments that combine pyroelectric properties and thermal stability testing.”

She nodded. Mm. Basically didn’t understand any of what she heard.

Even He Shan eventually could sense her mood and he smiled shyly, “Teacher Zhousheng treats everyone that way, as if he has nothing to do with anyone. Don’t let it bother you.”

Shi Yi responded with an “mm-hmm” and replied, “I can tell. He does everything according to the mood he is in. If he feels like acknowledging you, then he will say an extra couple of things to you, but if he doesn’t, he will just not say anything at all and not give you any face whatsoever.”

“Yes, yes!” He Shan nodded his head quickly. “Just like that.”

She smiled, “He has always been like that.”

“You and Teacher Zhousheng have known each other for a long time?” He Shan was puzzled. “I had thought the two of you had just met.”

Shi Yi did not speak. Only when they had walked out to the main entrance hall on the first floor did she finally clarify, “Indeed, it has not been long. We met by chance half a year ago in an airport and afterwards, we did not really see each other.”

She was not a person skilled in socializing.

Fortunately, there were actually not many people at dinner, maybe five or six, and the reason they had all been at work over the weekend was because they were not Xi’an locals. They found a restaurant that was close to Xi’an Jiaotong University and asked for a small private room. Some people were responsible for ordering their dishes while others chatted cordially with Shi Yi.

Gourd-shaped chicken, mushrooms and walnuts with quick-boiled pig tripe and duck gizzard, and spicy pig kidney[1]…… The dishes that were served were all ones that she had heard people talk about before but had never tasted.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.12.28 PM Left to right: gourd-shaped chicken, quick-boiled pig tripe and duck gizzard, spicy pig kidney


There are many types of beautiful women. Most will fall into the category of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder, some will cherish this one while others will turn their nose up at her.”

Shi Yi, though, was amongst the small number that belonged to the category of “widely acknowledged to be beautiful.” Furthermore, her looks were not the least bit intimidating, so everyone had a rather favourable impression of her. By the time most of the dishes were served up onto the table, she was already well acquainted with this group from the laboratory.

Zhousheng Chen was sitting adjacent to her, but throughout the whole time, he was explaining to a postgraduate student beside him the experiment they would be performing that night.

She, on the other hand, was nibbling on her chopsticks, trying out the new flavours while, at the same time, listening to these people describe a world that she had never before been exposed to. The topic soon turned to Zhousheng Chen. The oddest part was, besides He Shan, everyone else did not seem very acquainted with him and even asked some questions that one would only bring up when meeting someone for the first time.

However, based on his temperament and character, this was not difficult to understand. Even though he had been in Xi’an for more than a month already, perhaps he really had not said much of anything to the people who were present there.

There were many questions. He answered them politely and Shi Yi listened carefully.

She very much wanted to know everything concerning him.

Eventually, everyone started feeling apologetic that they were asking so many questions, and finally, a girl tried to wrap the conversation up with a laugh. “I heard the dean mention that numerous places had extended an invitation to Teacher Zhousheng. Why did you choose to come here?”

“There are some matters in my family that required that I return to China,” Zhousheng Chen answered. “This was merely on the way.”

To him, an invitation from a research institute was something that was “merely on the way.”

This should have been a very discomforting statement, but he spoke it in such honesty that it only added to the worship that the people there felt toward him. Shi Yi, however, thought that he ought to be this way.


In the end, after they finished harassing Zhousheng Chen, the subject turned to her. “Shi Yi, what do you do?”

“I’m a voice artist,” she answered with a smile.

“You mean, where you dub the voices for those foreign films?”

“Yes, but also not completely.” She explained to them simply, “The number of foreign-language films that are brought into the country is actually quite small, so most of the time, we provide voice acting for domestic films, animated cartoons, commercials, and so on.”

“Domestic films?” a girl asked, perplexed. “We are all Chinese. Why would we specially go and dub them? You mean, it’s not the actors themselves who are speaking?”

He Shan sighed, “You are so uncultured. Haven’t you heard of something called ‘Hong Kong movies’?”

Shi Yi played along and also heaved a sigh. “You’re the one who is uncultured, yet you’re going around pointing fingers. Most TV dramas or movies, regardless of whether they are in Mandarin or Cantonese, require voice artists like us to provide dubbing, unless an actor’s voice is particular good and skilled.”

When she finished speaking, He Shan immediately became the target of everyone’s loud guffaws.

“So do voice actors all work behind the scenes? You are so pretty, why don’t you consider acting yourself?”

“That depends on the person’s individual personality.” She took a sip of grapefruit juice and continued, “For example, Zhang Hanyu started out in voice acting, but he is also very suited for being onscreen. My personality is not very good for that. I don’t like to be surrounded and watched by a lot of people, so I can only stay in the recording studio and do my work there.”

“So do you usually get to see a lot of famous stars?”

“Actors, you mean? I see them often. This is like a business. They are merely a small part of what goes onscreen. Behind the scenes, there are many, many people working alongside them, and actually, everyone is equal.”

Completely different worlds.

When they heard about the other party’s field of specialty, they would feel that it was very mysterious.

Some of the researchers found her career rather interesting and asked all sorts of questions of her.


She reflected on the taste of the dishes she had just eaten, remembered which one she found to be palatable, picked some food up with her chopsticks, and placed them on her plate. While she was eating with head lowered, she would unconsciously listen to what he was saying. Most of them were terms and expressions that she did not know, probably words that were all related to chemistry somehow.

The voice was different. The outer appearance was different. Everything was different.

But she still could not help trying to find, from his gestures and manner by which he carried himself, any traces or clues.


Zhousheng Chen had finally finished discussing work. He glanced over at Shi Yi, who had set her chopsticks down. “You have only eaten so little?”

She frowned at him. “It wasn’t little. You’ve just been talking the whole time and did not notice how much food I managed to snatch from them.”

He said, “The food here tastes quite good.”

With an “mm”, she replied, “It is quite good. Basically, anywhere in the general vicinity of a university, restaurants with good food can be found.”

“Teacher Zhousheng, after hearing what your friend had to say, we all want to change careers now,” someone laughingly joked. “It’s so nice. Your whole job is to ‘speak,’ unlike us where we have to work so hard.”

Zhousheng Chen gave a little smile but did not reply.

Worried that the person might feel awkward because of the silence, Shi Yi considerately took control of the subject and answered for him, “Let me tell you, oh, a voice artist has to go through a long period of studying and learning.”

“It’s that troublesome? Is it like being a broadcaster?” someone else asked her curiously.

“No, not the same.”

Under the group’s curious gaze, Shi Yi, in a serious manner, suddenly put down her chopsticks and imitated a classic cartoon character: Donald Duck. No one had expected that such a beautiful girl’s mouth was able to create such a wacky and bizarre sound. Even the serving staff were stunned.

“Do you understand now?” Shi Yi’s voice returned to normal, still warm and gentle as before.

He Shan sighed, “Holy cr*p!” and was finally filled with utter admiration.


The meal was more than half done, and in the brief period when Zhousheng Chen had stepped out, someone grinned and asked Shi Yi if she was his girlfriend. Taken aback, she did not utter an answer. Instead, someone clarified for the two of them, “Don’t make ridiculous remarks. I heard that Teacher Zhousheng has a fiancée already.”

Hearing this, the person who had been trying to get the gossip hurriedly apologized to her.

Shi Yi put up an unconcerned front, lowering her head to fiddle with her mobile phone as if she was checking her text messages.


When it was time to say goodbye, Zhousheng Chen did not leave with everyone else and stood by her side the whole time until the group, amid their own noisy chatter, had turned the corner at an intersection. He then waved down a taxi, opened the door for her, and said, “I’ll escort you back to the hotel.”

Shi Yi seated herself inside and then he opened the front door of the car and sat down on the front passenger side.

Along the way, the driver was listening to oldies tunes. The two of them were separated, one sitting in the front and the other in the back, so naturally, there was not much verbal interaction. She stared at the nightscape outside the window, replaying those words from dinner tonight.

He had a fiancée.

And so, he should be like any other ordinary person whose life was following a normal path. A life of being born, growing old, getting sick, dying as well as marrying and having children. There was nothing different about him, and there would not be anything different about him. In reality, she herself knew that besides being able to see those few strange snippets of her past life, she, too, was no different from the next person.

To be born, to grow old, to get sick, to die.


After the two of them had gotten out of the taxi, Zhousheng Chen stood outside the main entrance of the hotel and indicated that they should bid farewell. Shi Yi said goodbye to him and had just turned and taken two steps away from him when, for some curious reason, she turned back toward him again. And he was still looking at her.

She walked back to him and asked unexpectedly, “Do you believe in fortune-telling?”

“In a certain sense, no, I do not.” Zhousheng Chen smiled, “However, if the fortune is a very good one, I will likely subconsciously tell myself that this might be true.”

Shi Yi stretched out her hand. “May I read your palm?”

“You know how?”

“I’ve studied it a bit,” Shi Yi made-up a reason on the spot. “But there isn’t much use to it, and it may not be very accurate.”

Zhousheng Chen laid his palm out in front of her, and Shi Yi gently clasped his fingers. Perhaps because of his years spent in a laboratory, his fingers had that distinctive roughness of a man, with just the right amount of warmth. For a moment, her heart started beating irregularly, and she hastily used her voice to conceal her emotions. “I can only see your past and cannot see things that will happen in the future.”

“My past?”

Softly, she gave an “mm” and, still holding onto his fingers, lifted her head to look straight into his eyes. “Do you believe that you have previous incarnations? I might possibly be able to see your previous life.”

The security guard standing at the front entrance watched them curiously, not understanding what these two people were doing.

A taxi cab happened to pull up right then in front of the main entrance to the hotel. Zhousheng Chen was directly facing its headlights, and he squinted his eyes slightly as he told her in a voice that carried a smile in it, “Tell me, then.”


[1] All Shaanxi cuisine. Xi’an is in the province of Shaanxi. These non-locals are trying out well known local dishes. The Chinese names, respectively are 葫芦鸡 (sometimes known in English as hulu, or gourd, chicken),蘑桃仁汆双脆, and 温拌腰丝.


1 of 1 Prologue
5 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues

Additional Comments:

So, this novel was written before Really, Really Miss You, but all of us who have now read RRMY don’t need Shi Yi to explain the awesomeness of voice actors, right?   Toupai  <3

26 thoughts on “One Life, One Incarnation: Beautiful Bones (一生一世美人骨) — Chapter 2.1

  1. Oh my, am so excited for the next part. Will she give a tale of their past life? So sad that he has a fiance but of course it must be a political thing.

  2. *happy sigh* I’ve been refreshing nonstop. I do❤ this story. Been resisting re-reading cuz then it's just so good!!! Thank you!!!!

    • ❤ I loved rereading too. I caught so many more details about their mannerisms, reactions, etc. MBFB really thought out their characters.

  3. I must give Shi Yi points for persevering because I would probably be like her friend and tell her, “he’s just not that into you.” But thankfully she is persistent, else, how else will he think of her? Gotta leave an impression somehow. Seize the moment! ^^ I am really curious about their previous life. I guess I’ll slowly wait for it to be revealed throughout the novel.

  4. what a cliffhanger…. T^T thank you for the translation

  5. I really like Shi Yi a lot. Until he admits the existence of a fiancée I am chalking that up as an unsubstantiated rumor.

    • I like her too. There’s a strength in her, not a damsel in distress but also not an overbearing women’s lib type of strong.

  6. Thanks for the chapter!

  7. Thank you for the translation! Reading this book again in English really helps a lot!
    If im not wrong there’s supposed to be a 番外, do you know whether it has been released yet? Im dying to know what happened after the ending! I wasn’t really satisfied with it😦

    • Another reader who loves this story enough to repeat read along with me.🙂

      Yes, 3 epilogues came with the published novel. I liked! I posted the link over in SSB. (I’m on my phone right now and can’t get you a link. Sorry.)

      • I have just finished reading the epilogues…Thank you so much!!! Finally!!! Really thank you so much for telling me about the link!🙂 I love the epilogues so much!!!
        Thank you for taking the time to translate Beautiful Bones!

  8. How convenience that she as a “fortune teller” can only see his past & not his future. 😉 Shi Yi is a smooth as Toupai when he was pursuing Gu Sheng. The foods, with the exception of pig kidney, sound yummy… A good thing I just ate lunch.

    Thanks for a beautiful translation, Hoju!

    • She only “studied a little bit” of fortune telling. Don’t be so picky. A girl needs an excuse to hold a guy’s hand, you know.😉

      Honestly, the names in Chinese sound much better. :p

  9. I’m re-reading this novel from the beginning since we have about 2 months before the translation of this novel will be completed. For the life of me, I still can’t picture how beautiful SY is supposed to be. I’m always having a hard time picturing a beautiful gal (SY) or handsome guy (Toupai) that is mostly in the character of the novel. I love reading but I’m always lost when the writer tries to describe someone’s beautiful or handsome appearance in the novel. 😳 If you can picture an American actress (since I’m not really familiar with Chinese actresses), who will be as beautiful as SY? The term 倾国倾城 was brought up in both RRMY & BB but I still can’t visualize who can be so beautiful & handsome that can brings down a country. 😜

    • Sian, sorry, I meant to reply to your post, but accidentally posted below. Anyway, my message, which has been posted immediately below yours in the main thread, was written for you.🙂

  10. The thing with books (as opposed to visual media like, say, movies), is that many people can read the same descriptive line–such as “a very beautiful girl”– but each person will be inspired to imagine/picture something different than everyone else, based on their individual taste and beauty perception. Because each of us have been shaped differently by many factors–environment, culture, life experience, media “brainwashing” etc.–our beauty appreciation and personal taste will, of course, differ to a slight or large degree from everyone else’s. Therefore, when reading about “a very beautiful girl”, it’s highly unlikely that we will picture the same kind of beauty, and it’s even likely that we wouldn’t agree with what someone else has pictured. For example, *you* may think of Gisele Bundchen, and of course, she’s a world famous supermodel so you wouldn’t be *wrong* to think of her. But personally, *I* don’t find her beautiful. Conversely, I find Gugu Mbatha-Raw (a South African actress) beautiful, but you may not. Because our individual tastes differ–and that’s perfectly okay.
    That said, a line such as “beauty that could bring down an empire” should, in my opinion, refer to an absolute, classical type of beauty that is breathtaking to a degree that transcends the slight (or major) differences between individual tastes. A beauty that–at least within its specific culture and era but maybe even regardless of that–is acknowledged and admired by everyone (or okay, 99% of people). And yes, Shi Yi supposedly has that kind of timeless, perfect beauty (or as close to perfection as it’s possible to get).

    Personally, I picture Shi Yi as Song Hye Kyo, who is a Korean actress, but even as a Westerner I am in awe at her beauty and I don’t think there’s many who would *not* find her gorgeous, regardless of where they were born on Earth.
    An American actress that, in my opinion, would also fit Shy Yi’s image well is Catherine Zeta-Jones as she looked at the time of “Mask of Zorro”. Breathtakingly lovely and with a glowing grace and elegance that only increased her beauty.

    • Awww, thanks for your response, Adnana! I definitely agree that the term beautiful or handsome depends on each individual person. Each one of us has our own version of who is beautiful or handsome based on whatever criteria in our mind. The problem that I have with the term 倾国倾城 is like you said, at least 90% of us have to agree that the person is so breathtakingly beautiful or handsome & so far I can’t picture who this person can be. I’m trying to remember all those beautiful & handsome actors/actresses and can’t seem to find anybody that can be in the category of 倾国倾城. Hehehe…

      Personally, I don’t think Gisele is super pretty either. Most of these pretty women have makeup that make them pretty. If they don’t wear makeup, they usually look very normal. Hehehe… Not to mention, in this day & age & with plastic surgery, you can make yourselves beautiful. 😜 You think Catherine Zeta Jones or Song Hye Kyo can be considered in the 倾国倾城 category? They’re pretty but I can’t put them in that category. 😉 See, my idol is Zhang Han. As much as I like the guy, I don’t put Zhang Han in that 倾国倾城 category either. Hahaha…

      • Perhaps if I offer up a clarification of 倾国倾城, it might help?

        I think there might be a misperception that 倾国倾城, beauty that causes the downfall of an entire country, is a beauty that everyone 100% is willing to do that for. This is not Xiao Long Nv where everyone who saw her was completely smitten or Princess Fragrance of Jin Yong’s Book and Sword, where merely making her cry caused a soldier to be so remorseful he killed himself on the spot and entire armies would stop battling because she was there.

        I’ll offer up a more familiar example of the term from Chinese folklore which has been adapted into dramas before, and also in Jin Yong’s Crimson Sabre/Sword Stained with Royal Blood. Chen Yuanyuan was the concubine of Wu Sangui. During the end of the Ming dynasty,there were rebel forces made up of Han people who had overthrown the current emperor and captured the capital of Beijing, but there was still the threat of the Manchu forces pressing in upon them. It was said that the leader of the Han rebels, Li Zicheng forcefully took Chen Yuanyuan from Wu Sangui. Out of anger and revenge, Wu Sangui betrayed his Han background and joined forces with the Manchus, playing a key role in letting the Manchus into critical territory and ultimately, bringing down Han rule of the country. Chen Yuanyuan would be an example of 倾国倾城, in that, it wasn’t that the entire world would overthrow a country for her, but that someone, for this woman, was willing to do some really extreme things, even if it meant betraying his ethnicity and overthrowing his own country. Chen Yuanyuan was likely a widely acknowledged beauty, but it’s not saying everyone who saw her fell in love with her.

        Therefore, it’s not going against the principle that everyone has different standards of beauty. 倾国倾城 is just saying that this would be widely accepted as a very beautiful/handsome person, and *someone* out there would be willing to do crazy things for her/him. It’s like Liu Yi Fei is not my type of beauty that I really like, but I do acknowledge that she is very beautiful and some people go absolutely gaga over her.

        • Ah, the clarification makes sense. So the term is actually used for one individual person that thinks one person is so beautiful/handsome that he/she is willing to do anything against his/her own principle. So in ZSC’s eyes, SY is so beautiful that he’s willing to take Chinese herbal medicine that he hates because he can’t say no to her. Hehehe… Actually using this, I can also say that I can put ZSC in this 倾国倾城 category for me personally because due to his awesome character/personalities, I go against my principle to not follow along with your life translation in this novel. 😜

          I thought the term was being used like the description of Xiao Long Nv like you said. She’s supposed to be so beautiful, every person that looks at her will be mesmerized by her beauty. It’s funny that you mentioned Liu Yi Fei. My friend told me that when she saw LYF as Xiao Long Nv for the first time, she thought she was seeing a Goddess. But Liu Yi Fei isn’t my type of beauty either. ☺️ Thank you for the clarification, Hoju.

        • Kind of… It really means that this beauty could overturn a person completely, that he could betray all his principles, do absolutely anything… so I guess it’s up to you to decide how much you would do for Zhousheng Chen.😉 Really, we’re getting down to nitty gritty technicalities, but in the colloquial sense, the term is just a very beautiful person, *widely* acknowledged to be very beautiful that some people would go absolutely insane over.
          Xiao Long Nv and Princess Fragrance-like characters would be called “other-worldly” or “ethereal” because there is no person in the world who could have the effect that Jin Yong wrote. :p That’s in my humble opinion, of course.

  11. I see what you’re doing there Shi Yi lol!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s